Tips for a Successful Donation

Prepare for a great donor experience:

  • You must wait 56 days between donations when donating a single unit of blood and 112 days if you donate two units.
  • You can donate platelets every two weeks
  • You can donate plasma every 28 days
  • Get a good night’s sleep before donating.
  • Eat a full meal within 6 hours prior to your appointment.
  • Make iron-rich foods part of your daily diet. Consider taking an over-the-counter iron supplement if you donate two or more times per year (with your doctor’s consent).
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for 24 hours after donating.
  • Make sure your system is fully hydrated. Drink 16 ounces or more just prior to donating and plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day.
  • After donating, please spend at least 15 minutes relaxing and having a snack at the donor center or bloodmobile.

The Role Iron Plays in Blood Donation

Iron is an essential element for humans. Red blood cells are red because of the iron-containing protein called hemoglobin that transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. For blood donors, iron is needed to make new red blood cells to replace those removed during donation.

Hemoglobin testing

Prior to your donation, SunCoast Blood Centers performs an FDA-required hemoglobin screening. If your hemoglobin levels fall below the minimum level required, you will not be able to donate. Low hemoglobin is the most common reason why donors are deferred from giving blood and is most common among women.

Suggestions to maintain your iron levels

  • You may consider taking multivitamins with iron or iron supplements that can be purchased over the counter. It is important to always consult your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet.
  • Add iron-rich foods to your diet including meat, seafood, poultry, iron-fortified cereals, whole grains, beans, peas, and dark green vegetables.
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